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Catholic religion in those countries. Brussels boasts another historic
relic known the world over - the equestrian statue of Godfrey of
Bouillon, who led the Crusaders to the Holy Land. It stands upon the
Place Royale, and was unveiled in 1848.

The magnificent Town Hall of Brussels would probably have suffered
destruction, together with the city's other beautiful buildings, had not
the government yielded without a struggle.


General von der Goltz, appointed by the Kaiser military governor of
Belgium, levied a war tax of $40,000,000 on the capture of the capital.
Other cities occupied by the Germans were also assessed for large
sums, which in several instances had to be paid immediately on pain of
bombardment. It was announced September 1 that the four richest men in
Belgium had guaranteed the payment to Germany of the war tax. The four
men were Ernest Solvay, the alkali king; Baron Lambert, the Belgian
representative of the Rothschilds; Raoul Warocque, the mine owner, and
Baron Empain, the railway magnate.


After the German occupation almost normal conditions were soon restored
in Brussels, so far as civic life was concerned. It was speedily
announced that the Germans intended to regard the whole of Belgium as
a German province and to administer it as such, at least during the
continuance of the war. The Belgian army retired to the north within the
fortifications of Antwerp, where they were joined by French troops, but
desultory fighting against the German invader continued at many points
and the Franco-British allies soon came into contact with the advancing
German army.


Antwerp is one of the largest, most modernly equipped and efficient
ports in Europe. It is only a short distance across the English Channel,
and is the head of 1,200 miles of canals in Belgium which connect with
the canal systems of Holland, France and Germany. On the harbor alone
over $100,000,000 has been spent and extensions are in progress which
will cost $15,000,000 more.

For the prosperity of Belgium, Antwerp is many times more important than
Brussels, the capital. While the country has an enormous amount of coal
and many factories and other industries, these would be of little value
without the imports which enter through Antwerp.

The city has about 360,000 inhabitants. Although located fifty-three
miles inland on the Scheldt River, it has natural advantages for harbor
purposes which have been recognized since the seventh century. Napoleon
looked over the spot and started large harbor construction.


Ever since that time, according to popular belief, Antwerp has
encouraged commerce. Over eighty different steamboat lines use the docks
and quays. The passenger lines include boats to New York and Boston, New
Orleans, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Grimsby, South American ports,
Cuba, the Congo, East and South Africa and the far East.

In 1912 a total of 6,973 ocean-going vessels entered the port, and
41,000 other vessels.

Antwerp in 1870 ranked fifth in the ports of the world. Today it is
believed to be second or third. Ten years ago the freight received from
the inland was principally by the canals. Approximately 2,300,000 tons
were received by rail and 5,500,000 tons by canal boats.

This ratio has not been maintained, but the canal traffic now is much
larger than the rail tonnage. This gives an idea of the extensive use to
which the European countries put their canals, and the reader may guess
the value of the city at the head of the canal system to the Germans.


Historic Ghent, with its quarter of a million inhabitants, was also
surrendered peaceably to the Germans, and again the energy and
initiative of an American, United States Vice-Consul J. A. Van Hee, had
much to do with the avoidance of tragedy and destruction.

Learning that the advance guard of the German army was only a few miles
outside the city, the burgomaster went out on the morning of September
to parley with Gen. von Boehn - in the hope of arranging for the German
forces not to enter. An agreement finally was reached whereby the
Germans should go around Ghent on condition that all Belgian troops
should evacuate the city, the civic guard be disarmed, their weapons
surrendered, and the municipal authorities should supply the Germans
with specified quantities of provisions and other supplies.

The burgomaster was not back an hour when a motor car driven by two
armed German soldiers appeared in the streets.

At almost the same moment that the German car entered the city from the
south a Belgian armored car, armed with a machine gun, with a crew of
three men, entered from the east on a scouting expedition.

The two cars, both speeding, encountered each other at the head of the
Rue Agneau, directly in front of the American consulate. Vice-consul Van
Hee, standing in the doorway, was an eyewitness to what followed.

The Germans, taken completely by surprise at the sight of the foe's grim
war car in its coat of elephant gray, bearing down upon them, attempted
to escape, firing with their carbines as they fled. Notwithstanding the
fact that the sidewalks were lined with onlookers, the Belgians opened
on the fleeing Germans with their machine guns, which spurted lead as a
garden hose spurts water.

The driver, fearing the Germans might escape, swerved his powerful car
against the German motor precisely as a polo player "rides off" his
opponent. The machine gun never ceased its angry snarl.

The Germans surrendered, both being wounded.

Appreciating that Ghent stood in imminent danger of meeting the terrible
fate of its sister cities, Aerschot and Louvain, sacked and burned for
far less cause, Mr. Van Hee hurriedly found the burgomaster and urged
him to go along instantly to German headquarters.

They found General von Boehn and his staff at a chateau a few miles
outside the city. The German commander at first was furious with anger
and threatened Ghent with the same punishment he had meted out to the
other places where Germans were fired on. Van Hee took a very firm
stand, however. He told the general the burning of Ghent would do
more than anything else to lose the Germans all American sympathy. He
reminded him that Americans have a great sentimental interest in Ghent
because the treaty of peace between England and the United States was
signed there just a century ago.

The general finally said: "If you will give me your word that there
will be no further attacks upon Germans in Ghent, and that the wounded
soldiers will be taken under American protection and returned to
Brussels by the consular authorities when they have recovered, I will
agree to spare Ghent and will not even demand a money indemnity."

The news that Mr. Van Hee had succeeded in his mission spread through
the city like fire in dry grass and when he returned he was acclaimed by
cheering crowds as the saviour of Ghent.


Blazoned on the front of the Town Hall suddenly appeared a great
black-lettered document. It was a manly and inspiring proclamation by
the burgomaster, similar to the splendid proclamation issued by M.
Adolphe Max, burgomaster of Brussels, just before the German entry.
He assured the inhabitants that he and all the town officials were
remaining in their places, and that so long as life and liberty remained
to him he would do all in his power to protect their honor and their
interests. He reminded them that under the laws of war they had the
right to refuse all information and help to the invaders; and called
upon each citizen, or his wife, to refuse such information and help.
Finally, he urged the citizens to remain calm, and stay in their homes.

"Vive la Belgique! Vive Ghent!" The proclamation ended in great capitals
with this patriotic cry.


But other cities and towns of Belgium were not as fortunate as Brussels
and Ghent in escaping damage and destruction.

Dinant, a town of 8,000 inhabitants, fifteen miles south of Namur, and
dating back to the sixth century, was partially destroyed by the Germans
in their advance on September 3 and 4. Early reports stated that a
number of the most prominent citizens had been executed, including Mr.
Humbert, owner of a large factory, who was slain in the presence of his
wife and children.

The Germans alleged that citizens had fired on them from the heights
about the city. They then drove all of the inhabitants out, shot some of
the men as examples, took the gold from the branch of the National Bank
and burned the business section. On September 4 the town of Termonde met
a similar fate. This town, 16 miles from Ghent, was fired in several
places before the Kaiser's troops passed on. They also blew up a bridge
over the River Escaut to the north, seeming to renounce for the moment
their intrusion into the country of the Waes district. Afterward they
directed an attack against the southwest front position of the Antwerp
army and were repulsed with great losses.

Describing the burning of Termonde by the Germans, a Ghent correspondent

"By midday Sunday the blaze had assumed gigantic proportions and by
Sunday evening not a house stood upright. This was verified at Zele,
where there were thousands of refugees from Termonde. The Germans also
pillaged Zele. The suburb of St. Giles also suffered from bombardment
and fire."

A courier who knew Termonde as a flourishing town with fine shops,
an ancient town hall of singular beauty and a number of churches of
historic interest, found the place on September 11 a smoldering ruin,
except for the town hall and one church, on a stone of which he saw the
inscription "1311." These two structures were left intact, without so
much as a broken window.

Termonde was burned for much the same reason as Louvain. On September
4 a German force came back from the field after having been severely
handled by the Belgians, and the German commander, it is said,

"It is our duty to burn them down!"

The inhabitants were given two hours' grace, and German soldiers filed
through the town, breaking windows with their rifles. They were followed
by other files of troops, who sprayed kerosene into the houses, others
applied lighted fuses and the town was systematically destroyed.


On Thursday night, August 27, the German artillery bombarded the ancient
Belgian town of Malines. During the bombardment many of the monuments
in the town were hit by shells and destroyed. When the artillery had
ceased firing the inhabitants of Malines were advised to leave the town.


_Earl Kitchener Appointed Secretary for War - A New Volunteer
Army - Expeditionary Force Landed in France - Marshal Sir John French
in Command - Colonies Rally to Britain's Aid - The Canadian
Contingent - Indian Troops Called For - Native Princes Offer Aid_.

After the declaration of war by Great Britain against Germany on August
4, the first important development in England was the appointment of
Earl Kitchener of Khartoum as secretary of state for war. This portfolio
had been previously held by the Rt. Hon. H.H. Asquith, premier and first
lord of the treasury. Lord Kitchener being the idol of the British army
and most highly esteemed by the nation generally for his powers of
organization and administration, as well as for his military fame,
the appointment increased the confidence of the British people in the
Liberal Government and awakened their enthusiasm for war. Parliament
unanimously passed a vote of credit for $500,000,000 on August 6.

Lord Kitchener immediately realized the serious nature of the task
confronting his country as an ally of France against the military power
of Germany. His first step was to increase the regular army. The first
call was for 100,000 additional men. This was soon increased to 500,000.
Within a month there were 439,000 voluntary enlistments and then a
further call was made for 500,000 more, bringing the strength of the
British army up to 1,854,000 men, a figure unprecedented for Great

The war fever grew apace in England. All classes of society furnished
their quota to the colors for service in Belgium and France. The period
of enlistment was "for the war" and a wave of patriotic fervor swept
over the British Isles and over all the colonies of Britain beyond the
seas. Political differences were forgotten and the empire presented
a united front, as never before. If Germany had counted on internal
dissension keeping England out of the fray, the expectation proved
unfounded. Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen stood shoulder to shoulder.
The Irish Home Rule controversy was dropped by common consent. The men
of Ulster and the Irish Nationalists struck hands and agreed to forget
their differences in the presence of national danger.

Trade resumed normal conditions and the Bank of England rate, which
earlier in the week had mounted to 10 per cent, was reduced on August
to 5 per cent.

There were some panicky conditions and a disquieting collapse on the
London Stock Exchange during the last days of feverish diplomacy, and it
was due to the financial solidity of the British nation, no less than to
its level-headedness and the promptness of government measures, that the
declaration of war, instead of precipitating worse conditions, cleared
the atmosphere.


While the British army was being mobilized, the utmost secrecy was
observed regarding all movements of troops. The newspapers refrained
from publishing even the little they knew and an expeditionary force,
composed of the flower of the British army and numbering approximately
94,000 men of all arms of the service, was assembled, transported across
the English Channel and landed at Boulogne and other French ports behind
a veil of deepest mystery, so far as the British public and the world at
large were concerned.

The old town of Plymouth, on the Channel, was the chief port of
embarkation for the troops and the main concentration point in England,
but troops embarked also at Dublin, Ireland; Liverpool; Eastbourne;
Southampton, and other cities. Not a mention of the midnight sailings of
transports carrying troops, horses, automobiles, artillery, hospital
and commissary equipment and supplies was allowed to be printed in the
newspapers, nor was it known how many troops were being sent across the

The landing in France was effected between the 10th and the 20th of
August without the loss of a single man, and on the 23d, having joined
forces with the French army under General Joffre, commander-in-chief,
the British found themselves in touch with the German enemy at Mons in


The expeditionary force was in supreme command of Field Marshal Sir John
D. P. French, a veteran officer of high military repute, with Maj.-Gen.
Sir A. Murray as chief of staff. Other noted officers were Lieut.-Gen.
Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the First Corps; Lieut.-Gen. Sir James
Grierson, commander of the Second Corps; Maj.-Gen. W. P. Pulteney,
commander of the Third Corps, and Maj.-Gen. Edmund Allenby, in command
of the Cavalry Division. The home army was left in command of Gen. Sir
Ian Hamilton.

Hardly had the expedition landed in France when the death was reported
of the commander of the Second Corps, Sir James Grierson, who succumbed
to heart disease while on his way to the front, dropping dead on a
train. He was given a notable military funeral in London. Gen. Sir H.
L. Smith-Dorrien was appointed to succeed him in command of the Second

The British troops were received in France with loud acclaim and Field
Marshal French, on visiting Paris for a conference at the French
war office before proceeding to the front, was greeted by a popular
demonstration that showed how welcome British aid was to the French in
their critical hour.

The British field force was composed of three army corps, each
comprising two divisions, and there was also an extra cavalry division.

Each army corps consists of twenty-four infantry battalions of about
one thousand men each on a war footing; six cavalry regiments, eight
batteries of horse artillery of six guns each, eighteen batteries of
field artillery, two howitzer batteries, and troops of engineers, signal
corps, army service corps and other details.

Thus the first British field force landed in France aggregated about
94,000 men, including the extra Cavalry division. These were added to
almost daily during the following weeks, until by September 20 the
British had probably 200,000 men co-operating with the French army north
and east of Paris.


At the prospect of war with Germany the dominions of the British Empire
overseas eagerly offered their aid. Canada, Australia, New Zealand,
India, all came forward with offers of men, money, ships and supplies.
The Australian premier issued a statement to the people in which he
said: "We owe it to those who have gone before to preserve the great
fabric of British freedom and hand it on to our children. Our duty is
quite clear. Remember we are Britons."


A formal offer of military contingents was cabled to England by the
Canadian government August 1. A meeting of the cabinet was presided over
by Premier Borden. It was called to deal with the situation in which
Canada found herself as the result of the European war.

The government unanimously decided to make England an offer of men.
Infantry, cavalry and artillery would be included in any force sent
forward and it would number 20,000 men if transportation could be
obtained for that number. It was estimated that within two weeks it
would be possible to dispatch 10,000 efficient soldiers, and within
three months this number could be increased to 50,000.

Many offers for foreign service arrived from the commandants of militia
corps throughout the dominion. In all 40,000 Canadian troops were
tendered to and accepted by the British Government in the early days of
the war; also 20,000 men from Australia and 8,000 from New Zealand, a
total of 68,000 men.

By the request of the Dominions in each case, the cost of the
equipment, maintenance and pay of the forces was defrayed by the three
governments - in itself a generous and patriotic additional offer. The
Dominions at the same time declared their readiness to send additional
contingents if required, as well as drafts from time to time to maintain
their field forces at full strength.


The first intimation that Canadian troops had been dispatched to the
front from Valcartier Camp came on September 24, when the Hon. T. W.
Crothers, the Dominion minister of labor, announced in a speech before
the Canadian Trades and Labor Congress, assembled in convention at St.
John, New Brunswick, that 32,000 Canadian volunteers "left for the front
a day or two ago." It was understood that the troops had sailed from
Quebec in twenty armed transports, convoyed by a fleet of British
warships, which had been collected at convenient ports for the purpose.

There were two army divisions in the force that sailed, each comprising
three brigades of infantry (12,000 men), 27 guns, 500 cavalry, and 2,
staff, signallers, medical corps and supermimaries.


Before they sailed away the Canadian army marched past the reviewing
stand at the Valcartier Camp, Quebec, under the eyes of 10,
civilians. There were 32,000 soldiers equipped for active service and
everyone was impressed with the serious scene.

The Duke and Duchess of Connaught, the Princess Patricia, Col. Sam
Hughes, the Canadian minister of militia, and Col. V. H. C. Williams,
commandant of the camp, looked on with pride as the great parade, almost
a full army corps, passed the royal standard. They marched in column of
half battalions, and took a full hour to go by. Officers commanding the
four infantry brigades: Lieut.-Col. R.E.W. Turner, V.C., D.S.O., of
Quebec, a veteran of the South African war, mentioned in dispatches for
especially gallant service; Lieut.-Col. S.M. Mercer, Toronto, Commanding
Officer of the Queen's Own Rifles; Lieut.-Col. A.W. Currie of Victoria,
Commanding Officer of the 50th Fusiliers; Lieut.-Col. J.E. Cohoe of St.
Catharines, Commanding Officer of the 5th Militia Infantry Brigade.

The officer appointed to command the artillery brigade was Lieut.-Col.
H.E. Burstall of Quebec, of the Artillery Headquarters Staff.

Officer in command of the Strathcona Horse, Lieut.-Col. A.C. Macdonnell,
D.S.O., of Winnipeg, a South African veteran.

Officer in command of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Lieut-Col. C.M.
Nelles of Toronto, Inspector of Cavalry for Militia Headquarters.

The commanding officer of the whole army division was an English general
selected by the British War Office.

It was understood that the Canadian troops would land in the south of
England and march through London to training quarters at Aldershot and
Salisbury Plains, the infantry going to Aldershot and the artillery
to Salisbury Plains, for several weeks' training under active service
conditions before going to the firing line.


"Canada will spend its last dollar and shed its last drop of blood
fighting for the principle of democracy, against that of autocracy, as
exemplified in the present European conflict."

This was the emphatic statement made by Sir Douglas Cameron,
lieutenant-governor - chief executive - of the province of Manitoba,
passing through Chicago on September 28.

"Great Britain is not fighting for empire," he said. "It is not fighting
for greater commercial gains. We are fighting for the annihilation of
autocracy and it is the sentiment of the people of Canada that they will
fight against Germany's domination to the bitter end.

"England does not want more commerce, except as it can be gained through
the paths of peace. We would not draw the sword to increase it, but we
will fight to the last drop of blood to protect it.

"The men of Canada have responded nobly to the call to arms. We have
sent about 31,800 provincial troops, every one a volunteer, and we have
that many more already enlisted if they are needed. Our trouble is to
equip them as fast as they enlist.

"In Canada we are turning our attention to agricultural pursuits. Wheat
is at a premium; a farmer can get from $1 to $1.10 per bushel in cash
for wheat on his wagon. All Europe will be in dire need of foodstuffs
next year and for some years to come and we in Canada hope to profit by
the opportunity.

"Economic conditions in the dominion received a terrible blow when the
war came; we were shocked, staggered, and business has received a hard
setback; finances are depressed. The government has offered help to the
banks, but they do not need it yet.

"We want immigrants in our country - Germans or any other good, strong,
virile nationality. We have no quarrel with the German people. We like
them; they are used to a high standard of living and are the finest kind
of citizens.

"To my mind, this war cannot be of long duration. Germany, with all
its preparedness, could not lay by stores enough to support 65,000,
people for any great length of time when there is no raw material coming
in. The country will be starved out, if not beaten in the field, for I
do not believe Germany can gain control of the high seas and cover the
world with its merchantmen."


The announcement by Lord Kitchener in the House of Commons late in
August that native troops from India were to be summoned to the aid of
the British army in France "came like a crash of thunder and revealed a
grim determination to fight the struggle out to a successful finish."

There was some talk in England of increasing the army by temporary
conscription, but Premier Asquith declined to consider any such

In the House of Commons on September 9 a message was read from the
Viceroy of India, which said that the rulers of the Indian native
states, nearly 700 in number, had with one accord rallied to the defense
of the empire with personal offers of services as well as the resources
of their states.

Many of the native rulers of India also sent cables to King George
offering him their entire military and financial resources, while the
people of India by thousands offered to volunteer.

Conditions in India were indeed so satisfactory, from the British

Online LibraryThomas Herbert RussellAmerica's War for Humanity → online text (page 14 of 49)